Author Archives: Mallory Dixon


I was a cheerleader in high school and for one of my practices, instead of doing gymnastics to warm up, my team did yoga. Afterwards, we all felt extremely relaxed and stretched out. My senior year of high school, my psychology went to weekly yoga classes and always told my class how much more relaxed and stress free he felt afterwards. The combination of these two things made me start to wonder, what are the health benefits of yoga. Yeah you are meditating, stretching, and relaxing, but does yoga doing anything long term for you or is it basically just an average workout?

Image result for yoga

This article talks about an experiment that was conducted to see how well yoga improved your physical and mental well-being. When you do yoga your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and your sympathetic nervous system are provoked by a stressor. This causes changes in your physiologic, behavioral, and psychological effects as a release of cortisol and catecholamines. This causes energy to engage with the stressor through “fight or “flight” syndrome. When this cycle is repeated enough times, over time it can reduce many types of diseases. Such as obesity, diabetes, depression, substance abuse, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disorders. Yoga can also slow down your heart rate, your salivary cortisol, blood glucose, and plasma rennin levels. The article also states that yoga is proven to relieve the side effects that stress has on the body.

(Image Source:Yoga Class)

This is another article I looked at that talks about the different types of yoga and how they are each beneficial in their own way. Some types are more intense than others, some use props, some are even done in extremely warm temperatures. Yoga tones your body while relaxing you at the same time. This article also talks about practicing yoga with a medical condition, but they also talk about practicing yoga if you have arthritis since yoga does not add any extra pressure to your joints, instead it helps you relax. They also mention that practicing yoga while pregnant can be a great way to stay in shape (with the approval of your doctor).

This article was written by an osteopathic physician who also practices yoga. Some of the psychical benefits you can get from doing yoga are:

  • flexibility
  • Muscles become more toned and stronger
  • Breathing, stamina, endurance
  • Weight loss

Image result for yogaThose are just a few physical benefits that they have listed. Practicing yoga regularly can also make you more alert and able to concentrate better. Being more aware of your body can also help you avoid future physical complications.

All in all I think yoga is a very beneficial workout. Now, I’m not saying that all other workouts should no longer be practiced, but yoga definitely has more benefits for your mental and physical well being.

(Image Source: Yoga Mats)

Food and Dreams

One of my friends in this class wrote a blog entry about the effects that different types of cheese can have on your dreams. I thought this topic was so interesting because I had never heard of anyone eating a certain type of cheese and having an outrageous dream. She told me that different types of cheese could make you feel like you are on different kinds of drugs in your dreams, which I thought was extremely interesting. This got me thinking, can any type of food affect your dreams?

Image result for peanut butter and jellyThe first article I came across listed different types of foods and how they affect your dreams. The first food the article listed was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The article says this type of food promotes happy dreams because of the high amount of carbohydrates and sugar. Sugary foods are good because our brains require a lot of sugar. The amount of protein from the peanut butter and the carbohydrates from the bread, when combined help boost the amount of serotonin produced in your body. The article lists a couple other types of food including cheese. They did not go into much depth with it, besides explaining that numerous studies have been conducted in which people would eat cheese and monitor the type of dreams they had.

(Image Source: PB&J)

I decided to search for another article that instead of focusing on how certain foods aid your sleep, I wanted to find out how certain foods affected your dreams. I found this article
 that talks about a man having consistent nightmares, sleep apnea, and a snoring problem. The man was Image result for chocolate involved in a serious car accident about 10 years before this experiment took place, which could have had an effect on the results. After this accident, was when the man started developing these bad sleeping habits. The man and his wife also mentioned that chocolate was something they ate frequently. Chocolate, when consumed before sleeping, can cause someone to have more vivid and enhanced dreams. This article talks about the psychoactive effects that chocolate has on the brain. In this article, it states that milk and cheese can cause you to have happier and more relaxed dreams. They also go on to quote Dr. Lori Shemek who states that the effect food has on dreams can change depending on the person having the dream. Your dreams are altered due to the digestion process, what phase of sleep you are currently in, and even the setting you are currently sleeping in. Dr. Lori Shemek also states that you should stay away from eating larger meals before you go to sleep, because if your body is having a harder time digesting the food, it could cause you to have nightmares and even disturb your sleep cycles.

(Image Source:Chocolate)

Eating foods containing excessive amounts of fat could also influence your dreams. Going off of what I said earlier about your body having a harder time digesting foods can cause nightmares, that is what happens when you eat foods containing a lot of fat.

This article does not just talk about what you are eating before you sleep, but when you are eating before you go to sleep. When you eat right before you go to sleep your body temperature increases and so does your metabolism. The combination of these two things could enhance your sleep, especially during the REM phase.

I didn’t realize so many different foods, or the amount of food you are consuming before you go to sleep, could affect your dreams. If I were to research this topic into more depth I would probably focus on one type of food: Chocolate, cheese, spicy food, or carbs, and study the effects of those foods individually rather than as a group.

Centralia Bacteria

A few weeks ago in SC200, we talked about the bacteria growing in Centralia, Pennsylvania. For anyone who does not know what Centralia is, it is a small abandoned town in Mid-Eastern Pennsylvania. Centralia is known for its coal mines that caught on fire in 1962 and has been burning since. The fires spread through tunnels that miners dug in the years before the fire occurred making them nearly impossible to extinguish. The government evacuated the town and it has since been abandoned except for a handful of residents, but after their deaths their homes will become the government’s property and they will be destroyed.  This topic stuck out to me when we discussed it in class because I live about an hour north of Centralia and I have been there multiple times with my friends from home. When I visited with my friends, we did not see smoke. Residents believe this is because the fire is getting smaller or even moving somewhere else underground.

Image result for centraliaAmong teenagers and tourists, scientists have also shown an interest in Centralia. They are studying the bacteria and how it is evolving. This article talks about Ashley Shade , and the studies she is conducting at Centralia. She has been studying the temperature of the soil. She took samples from soil that was touched by the fire and soil that wasn’t. They also took soil samples from 8-inches underground. They then began running tests to see what microbes were  currently in the soil.

Ashley Shade was still confused about where the different microbes originated from. Her hypothesis is that some of the microbes she discovered like heat. Meaning they are in a way “asleep” until their surroundings become hot. Soil microbiologist, Peter Hartel, talks about what happens when a banana peel is put into a compost pile. When the compost becomes hot, thermophiles begin to break down molecules that certain bacteria types can not(specifically the types of bacteria that like a colder atmosphere). He then states that this explains why colder compost piles are not as sufficient as warmer ones.

Image result for centraliaBiochemist Madan Kharel visited a similar coal mine in Kentucky that has also caught fire. She went there to conduct similar study to that of Ashley Shade. She searched for bacteria to create new antibiotics and drugs for cancer research.

Susquehanna University also collected samples of bacteria from Centralia. They separated the bacteria from the area where the fire occurred and analyzed it to determine the different types of bacteria and their performance in the environment they were discovered in.  The students discovered evidence that proposes the possibility of thermophilic, thermotolerant nitrifying, and sulfur metabolizing bacteria living in the area. The students plan to continue to check on the bacteria at Centralia and monitor their changes as time goes on and as the fire spreads.

I think it is really interesting how a fire in an underground mine could influence the growth of new bacteria that could create new antibiotics and even anti-cancer medications. The fire is expected to burn for at least another 200 years which could result in even more different types of bacteria growth.

Twin Telepathy

Image result for twin telepathy

When I was in middle school I went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. for the first time. As I was walking around I came across the section of the museum that talked about the experiments doctors would do on certain types of patients. One of the experiments they had done was with twins. They would harm one twin and see if the other could feel it. This really hit home with me because I am Jewish and I have a twin. It got me thinking, “Can one twin feel pain or feelings that his or her twin feels?”

The first article I came across was about a set of girl twins. Twin A was taking a bath and Twin B had a strange feeling to check on Twin A. As it turns out Twin A had a seizure and was drowning in the bathtub and when Twin B found her, she had turned blue. Twin B performed CPR and was able to save the life of her twin. Stories like these usually happen between identical twins (twins who look alike), but these girls are fraternal twins (twins who do not look alike). Their mother said that even though the girls are fraternal twins, they are very close and share a special bond. Dr. Lynn Cherkas concluded that 20% of of identical twins have experienced some type of telapathy with their twin and 1% of frateranl twins had some form of telapathic experience.

The articles I have come across have mostly been stories of one twin obtaining the skills another twin has. Such as one twin taking guitar lessons and after some time the other twin could play just as well, even though he had never taken any lessons at all. Most of the stories I have come across are between identical twins rather than fraternal twins. Identical twins (also known as monozygotic) seem to have a better connection because they come from the same egg.  Fraternal twins (also known as dizygotic) come from separate eggs.

Image result for twin telepathyEven though multiple studies have been conducted dealing with twin telepathy, I have not been able to find any scientific proof. This article talks about how the bond between twins might just only be a bond and nothing more. They also bring up the story I mentioned earlier about one twin drowning in the bathtub. Twin B might have felt the need to check on Twin A because she had known her twin was prone to having seizures. It could have just been a coincidence.

These scientists conducted an experiment with twins where one twin had to pick a card with a shape, telepathically communicate it to the other twin, and have the other twin pick the same card. The scientists stated that about 50% of the time, the other twin picked the correct card. When scientists decided to pick the card for the first twin, the second twin only picked the correct card about 25% of the time. They concluded that the twins picked the same card because they had similar preferences, not because they were telepathic. Similar experiments could be conducted with other family members and the results would come out the same. These scientists do not believe it to be any type of paranormal or telepathic activity, just families having similar preferences due to living together and being around one another frequently.

Despite what the scientists in my last article said, there are still plenty of articles talking about phenomena related to twins. Some are more explainable than others. My sister and I have never felt anything telepathic related to each other but it is interesting to see that other twins have had these experiences before. I think something like this could be possible. Despite others opinions, there have been instances where twins have had some sort of telepathic experience and I think it is something that should be studied more.


Eating in the Dark

I recently watched the movie, You Again and the part where the father eats blindfolded as a part of his diet really stuck with me. Does eating blindfolded actually prevent you from overeating? I mean there have been times where during dinner I would be eating and I would start to feel myself become full, but I still had food left on my plate so I would continue eating rather than stopping. If i had not known that food was there, would I still have wanted to continue eating?

A husband and wife decided to do an experiment of their own. Every once in awhile one of them will blindfold themselves during dinner. Once they become full and feel finished, they take the blindfold off. This experiment resulted in them taking smaller portion sizes, paying attention to their body so they know when they are full,and making them feel less guilty when they do not finish all the food that was left on their plate.

Every time I have dieted or tried to eat healthier I always ended up giving up and forgetting about the diet altogether. This article talks about a study conducted in Germany that shows people who are blindfolded while they eat consume less calories than people who can see their food. Some people also stated that the food tasted differently when they could not see it. Spicy foods taste spicier, sweet foods taste sweeter, bland foods (such as bread or crackers) have more flavor. When you take away one of your senses, the rest become stronger. When you can not see your food, you don’t feel the need to keep eating once you feel full and you can feel yourself become fuller more quickly since you are not focused on the food on your plate. 

According to Science Direct our behavior plays a role in determining how much food we consume. If you’re stressed you eat, if you’re happy you eat, if you’re sad you eat, if you’re bored you eat. Our bodies are used to eating even when we aren’t hungry. This article also talks about an experiment where they used 90 students to study taste perception of ice cream and the amount of ice cream the students estimated they would eat. Some of the students were blind folded and some of them were not. Those that were blind folded ate 9% less than those who were not . The students that were blindfolded also predicted that they would consume 88% more ice cream than they actually did. The students that were not blind folded only predicted that they would consume 35% more ice cream than they actually did. The scientists concluded that they experiment turned out the way it did because for the students that were blind folded, they had no visual input. 

Image result for eating blindfolded restaurant

Next time you’re eating, pay attention to other things besides just the food on your plate. Pay attention to your stomach, your head, even the way the food tastes. Experiment with yourself and blindfold yourself for a meal to see how much you are actually overeating.

(Image 1 Source)

(Image 2 Source)

What makes a criminal’s mind different?

How is a criminal’s mind different from a mind of someone who is not a criminal? According to Clara Moskowitz from, many convicted criminals have an antisocial personality disorder. When someone has this disorder they have difficulty determining what is right and what is wrong. She then goes on to explain a study that was done in 2008 in which 27 people who were diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder were compared to 32 people who were not diagnosed with a personality disorder. The results of the experiment showed that people with the disorder had a malformation in their amygdala in which there was a weakening in the outer layer of the cortex.

Image result for criminal mind vs normal mind

(Image Source)

According to the article 10 Incredible Facts About the Criminal Brain, brain tumors could also influence the probability of someone acquiring the disease. An example of this specific instance happening was with Charles Whitman, the man who murdered his mother, wife, and 14 people at the University of Texas. According to, the police autopsy reported that he had a brain tumor.

Adrian Raine, a professor from University of Pennsylvania, states that genetics are an important factor in determining if someone will or will not inherit criminal characteristics. Raine also mentions that the amygdala deformations can cause people to lack personality characteristics that can cause them to be less empathetic and not feel remorse for their actions.

The website states that intervention can also influence a persons future actions. At a young age, if the children are enrolled in enrichment programs, the probability that they will become a criminal later in life is reduced. A mothers actions can also influence the outcome of the child. The University of Colorado conducted an experiment and discovered that if a home nurse visits a pregnant women to assist her nutrition and daily habits, it could have a positive effect on the baby after it is born.

A criminals brain is very different than the average brain. Before researching this topic I assumed that the things that made a criminal a criminal were just in the individuals personality. I had no idea that they were actually related to a mental illness and could even be genetic.

Why do we like the things we like?

Everyone you meet is different and unique in their own way. Everyone has those things that they like and dislike and things they enjoy doing and things they despise doing, but why do some people enjoy certain things more than others?

According to Paul Bloom, most pleasures are developed from origins, not experience. People enjoy most things for obvious reasons. Sugary candy and salty snacks, for example, some people have a sweet tooth while others prefer a more pungent taste.

Image result for sweet vs salty

(Image Source)

Paul describes this as the adaptationist theory of pleasure. Those pleases that I described earlier, the ones developed from origins, are common throughout all individuals. If you compared all the different types of communities, you would notice a common ground between them.

People find pleasures in things they do because they have qualities of things they already enjoy. For example, someone who enjoys crossword puzzles enjoys doing them because they find pleasure in philosophical activities.

People can also find pleasure in things they are exposed to. For example, I personally used to hate country and rap music but, my friends from home loved both genres. After being exposed to both types of music for an extended period of time, I now enjoy listening to them.


What makes people sexy?

Have you ever been out with your friends and you saw someone and just thought, “Dang, that is one attractive person”? Have you ever wondered why certain people just appear to be more attractive than others?

According to, a recent study shows that long distance runners appear to be more attractive because their levels of testosterone are higher making them appear more manly and also causing them to be more fertile. There are many biological traits that draw us to people and cause us to become attracted to them.

One of the most important traits is facial symmetry. Having a face that is symmetrical is appealing to prospective partners. It tells them that good genes will be found in this persons body. This characteristic is also linked to extroversion, congeniality, and faithfulness, which makes it easier for good looking people to find jobs and make friends.

Physical appearance is not the only thing that can cause a person to appear more attractive; personalities also play an important role. According to, a study was conducted to see what men and women found out about each other. These men and women were generally attracted to people who seemed happier, more positive, and friendlier in their attitude towards others.

These things are what typically attract people to each other Is there anything that attracts you to another person? Is there anything that makes you un-attracted to another person? What personality traits are a turn on for you? turn off?

Image result for what makes people attracted to each other


My name is Mallory Dixon. I’m a freshman and I plan on majoring in Security and Risk Analysis. I’m from Mountain Top, Pennsylvania. (If you watch The Office, I’m about a half hour away from Scranton.) I attended Crestwood High School and I was a member of the Varsity cheerleading squad. This past February my team and I had the opportunity to compete in the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championships. I also have a twin sister attending PSU. My sister and I are complete opposites. For example, she loves science and I hate it.

I always liked the idea of Science, but I never enjoyed the classes themselves. I tried to convince myself that more I studied, the more the subject would grow on me. It didn’t. Psychology is the only science I have ever had an interest in. You can find some really neat articles about psychology here.

While I was creating my schedule at NSO I came across this class. All the other science classes available reminded me of the classes I despised in High School, but this class actually interested me. I was really excited when the description mentioned that this course is intended to promote critical thinking and how it is not a class for students who are majoring in science.

Skyler and I Graduation Day

(Yes, we are actually twins.)